The art of mixing music is one of the most creative steps in the music production process. The skill and knowledge required to create a great mix are not easy to acquire. But you can hone your skills with practice. Here are some of the most common elements of a good mix:
Listening – You should listen to each track in the mix, both separately and together. If there are any muddy tracks or tracks that stick out, this can be an indicator that something needs to be fixed. Similarly, if the overall volume of your song is too low or too high, you should take a break and come back with a fresh set of ears.
Organization – Getting your tracks organized in the right order is the first step toward creating a sounding record. Use tools such as automation or Pitch Correction to make your mix sound smoother. Also, be sure to take the time to read through the notes on each track and identify their relationships to each other.
Panning – You want to make sure that you’re panning the track in such a way that the instruments blend well with each other. Panning is a way of controlling the width of your mix. For example, if you’re mixing a song that contains drums, you should pan them so that they form a cohesive group, not stacked on top of each other.
EQ – EQ is used on every single track in your mix. If your kick drum is distorted, you should isolate it and reduce its frequency around the 300Hz range. This can make it sound cleaner, and gives room for the bass to fill out the low end. Depending on the instrument, you may need to use different EQ treatments.
Balance – Getting the right balance between the low and the high end is another key component of a good mix. A great mix is dynamic and changes in energy. Keeping the bass guitar, kick, vocals, and snare in the center of your mix is one of the most important ways to get this. However, you should also ensure that you’re keeping the lower sounds in the stereo center, and that they’re not causing a muddy or crowded sound.
Compression – Adding compression can help you control the dynamic swings in your mix. These swings can be up to 20dB, which can help you fine-tune the mix between the quietest and the loudest parts.
Adding a limiter – Limiters are another essential tool in a great mix. In addition to limiting your audio level, they also help you preserve your dynamic range. Using a limiter is similar to using a compressor, but instead of reducing the loudness of your track, a limiter only lowers the level of the signal.
Other tools that can be useful include automation, beat detective, and audio stretching. By utilizing these tools, you can help to create an immersive listening experience for your audience.